The Press Democrat

Firing concerns 49ers' Garcia
January 18, 2003
QB uses his radio show to voice criticism of management


Three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia said on his radio show that he is not convinced the 49ers will be able to upgrade the team's coaching after the Wednesday firing of Steve Mariucci.

And if team owner John York can't get somebody better in place to lead the team next season, Garcia wondered Friday morning on his paid KNBR segment why the move was made in the first place?

Garcia also said he was not enamored of the coaches who have been named as possible replacements, strongly intimating a lack of support for Dennis Green's campaign for the 49ers job.

"I think one of the major concerns for me was, what sort of options are there out there to replace coach Mariucci?" Garcia said. "If you don't have a better option, then why is this taking place?"

In some corners, Green is seen as the most viable candidate to replace Mariucci, who was fired Wednesday after his sixth season on the job. But Green, who coached the Minnesota Vikings to eight playoff appearances in 10 seasons, also has his share of detractors.

Garcia said it will be difficult for him to make the adjustment from Mariucci to the next coach.

"Because of my relationship and friendship with coach Mariucci, it makes it harder to think about somebody else coming into that job," Garcia said. "But really I'm not a big fan of some of the options I've heard that are out there. That's going to be the most difficult thing for me, adjusting and adapting to whoever's hired as head coach."

Garcia, who signed a six-year, $36 million contract before the 2001 season, said he would like to have a voice in the selection process.

"I just hope in making this decision to hire a new coach, they consult some of the leaders on this team and really question them and ask them if they're comfortable playing for this type of guy," Garcia said.

General manager Terry Donahue continued to sort through a list of coaching candidates Friday, as he spent most of his day speaking with some of the assistant coaches on Mariucci's final staff.

One day after special teams coach Bruce DeHaven and linebackers coach Richard Smith were released to pursue jobs elsewhere, the 49ers announced secondary coach Brett Maxie also has been let go at his request. Maxie was under contract through the 2003 season.

DeHaven was hired Friday as special teams coach of the Dallas Cowboys under Bill Parcells. Smith has at least one interview set up next week.

The 49ers are expected to begin the interview process next week to find Mariucci's replacement. They could settle on a new coach in early February.

York said he has made a commitment to interview "viable" African-American coaches. In addition to Green, the team also will give serious consideration to St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Lovie Smith and New York Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, a high-ranking official indicated.

Coaches who are believed to warrant serious consideration from within the organization are 49ers assistants Ted Tollner and Jim Mora.

Whomever the team decides upon will have a difficult act to follow, Garcia said.

"Hopefully, the person who comes in to take over the reigns helps take this team to new levels because it's already been built up to a position where we better not fall down, we better move forward," he said.

Garcia said he believes that Mariucci's relationships with Donahue and consultant Bill Walsh figured into his firing as much as any philosophical differences with York.

"I think it comes down to too many chiefs, not enough Indians," Garcia said. "It's tough for a coach to be in the position that he's in when you always have a dark cloud over your head -- other individuals always looking over your shoulder, always trying to step in.

"It was kind of one of those things, 'Yeah, this is your team but we're going to step in and speak and talk to the team whenever we feel necessary.' I think it's more than a conflict between Dr. York and coach Mariucci. I think it's something that's been an issue for the past couple season, and it's something everybody outside the organization can see or recognize. It's not any secret."

Walsh, the man responsible for bringing Garcia to the organization in 1999, was known to address the team periodically during the season after getting permission from Mariucci.

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